Akaroa & Christchurch
In February 2011, the world was turned upside down in Christchurch New Zealand as the city was rocked by a 6.1earthquake. The devastation was widespread and many buildings were damaged beyond repair or simply fell down. May 25, 2012 the city was hit by the 41st quake of magnitude 5 or greater since Sept 2010.
We knew that we would be unable to enter the central city, we also knew this would likely be our only trip to the area.
So we again went to tripadvisor.com to find a local guide who could show us the beauty of the Akaroa Peninsula as well as Christchurch.
We found Craig Rome who owns and operates CANNZ Tours.
After the great experience we'd had in Hobart and the so-so experience we'd had in Dunedin, we had our fingers crossed as we met Craig.
We had no reason to worry as Craig gave us one of the best tours of our cruise!
As we entered the harbor, the hills rose around the ship on every side
Since there was no pier to tie up, we dropped the anchor and were ferried to shore in life boats - a process they called tendering.
We met up with Craig and got underway. On the way out of the small resort town we saw that they also had been affected by the quake as was evidenced by the damage to this monument's upper parts.
We soon had gained enough altitude to have a fine view of the bay
Our first stop was this little cheese shop
The cheese was excellent
But we bought nothing - and took the opening photo from a poster on the wall
We stopped again after a while at the Hilltop Tavern
|. . . for another scenic overlook of Barry's Bay and Akoroa and some more photo ops|
After another short drive, we stopped at the Little River Rail Station
The station is a combination museum and "separation place" (places intended to separate tourists from their money ;-)
As we drove on, we encountered Lake Ellesmere, a huge lake where we saw black swans and their cygnets
In the distance across the lake, we could see the snow capped mountains in the distance
As we were driving, Craig swung into a farm drive and bought some fresh asparagus for our lunch
While this was our first sighting, we would learn that llamas are relatively common sight in New Zealand.
Craig took the "high road" over the mountain passes where we stopped at a turn out for tea!
Craig unfolded a cute fold-up picnic table out of his vehicle
Along with some delightful goodies including blueberry muffins, snack cakes, and other such delicacies.
Bob was afraid he would overload the table so Craig broke out some folding "camp chairs"
Just above us was this peak
|Peggy & Theresa toast "the good life!"|
This stop provided a splendid view of Lyttleton Harbor (where ships moored prior to the earthquake) along with Rapaki island. Craif said the estimate is that they may start mooring cruise ships next year this time.
|A great photo of the valley floor north and west of Christchurch|
We went further across the mountain top and stopped again at a spring along the roadside. Peggy noticed some people drinking from it and asked. Craig said he'd driven the road a thousand time and never before noticed this spring!
It also offered an opportunity for a horticulture lesson for Theresa
A little further, we stopped again at the Kennedy Rest Area - so named for the rest station on the hiking trail (a few photos on). The parking area offered one final look back on Lyttleton Harbor
It also offered a nice view of this "mountain cabbage tree." The leaves droop as they age leaving room for the younger leaves. They are very tough and will tangle a lawn mower, so they are not good for having in the yard!
A few hundred yard walk brought us to the actual Kennedy Rest - a small open walled house that had a fireplace and restroom facilities
A little ways further, we passed the Sign of the Kiwi - originally another of the rest stops, now a cafe and gift shop.
Just down the hill from the lodge, we saw what we all took to be a church, but was in actuality another (more elaborate traveler's rest stop) being attended to by workers repairing earthquake damage.
Behind the traveler's rest was an overview where we could see all of Christchurch below.
As we entered the city itself, the effects of the quake became quickly evident. Rubble piles from demolished buildings were being prepared to be hauled away
The Catholic Cathedral was damaged beyond repair and was simply waiting for demolition - note the empty cargo containers being used to stabilize the structure until they were ready to bring it down.
Some buildings appear OK but contain serious internal structural damage.
Only a few buildings over four stories in the central business district were deemed acceptable t o be restored - the rest, like these, will be demolished
Not everyone in Christchurch believes that CERA, the government agency formed to deal with the emergency and make decisions is correct with the decision to demolish the Cathedral. Time will tell if these folks get their way.
As we drove along the river, we could see some structures that have apparently survived including this arch leading to the bridge of remembrance - commemorating those who have served in the armed forces
The Avon River runs through downtown Christchurch and offers a peaceful respite
As well as an opportunity to ride in a punt - kind of like a gondola ride
Our final stop was at Craig's house where he prepared a luncheon fit for royalty!
His gardens are beautiful and gave Theresa an opportunity to see some great flowers
Best of all, Craig asked "Does anyone want to help in the kitchen?"
He did not have to ask Bob twice
Flowers in Craig's garden
And some from a garden near the University
Craig let us off at one end of the walkway through the University Gardens and we would meet him at the other end
The gardens provide a great place for young love to bloom
And not so young lovers to stroll
On the way back to the ship, we saw this Maori lodge and stopped briefly just for a couple of photos
including the totem on the front peak
We took the "low road" back to "fleet landing"- not as scenic but more direct
One last group photo of the group. Throughout the day, Craig consistently treated us as guests rather than as clients. The difference is subtle sometimes, but it makes all the difference in the world.
Bob & Bill on the "liberty launch" i.e. tender
Oosterdam from the tender
We got back to the ship too late for our regular seating, so we were seated in the "anytime" section of the dining room. Peggy noticed that the ceiling "stars" changed color every 15-20 seconds!